When the 2015 World Cup kicked off, there were apprehensions that the pool stage would be very predictable, and that the top eight would easily qualify, outdoing the lesser-ranked sides. But, while most of the results have gone according to what was expected, the matches weren't as predictable as many feared it would be. Ireland were competitive as ever pulling off upsets, Afghanistan beat Scotland in their maiden World Cup, and UAE also competed in the first half. But, above all, the line-up for the quarter-final isn't as it has been predicted. England have been knocked out, and it is Bangladesh who have made it. Although England were expected to struggle, them not making it to the last eight is a shocker for sure.
Looking at the other teams, India's performance has been pleasantly surprising. Having gone winless in Australia for three months, they weren't rated highly, and were predicted to sneak into the quarters via minnow-bashing. However, India have been among the best sides of show, comprehensively defeating Pakistan and South Africa en route to winning all the matches in their pool. In the other group, New Zealand have replicated India. They won all six of their games, most of them in dominant fashion, overcoming Sri Lanka, Australia and England along the way.
Co-hosts Australia have been impressive as expected. They began the tournament with another pounding of England, and were unlucky as their game against Bangladesh was washed out. But, if you take out their close loss to New Zealand, they displayed their supremacy against Sri Lanka in a high-scoring game, and dished out smashing performances against the minnows. Sri Lanka were off to an unsure start, losing to New Zealand in the tournament opener. And although they went down fighting to the Aussies, they were absolutely dominant against Bangladesh and England. Kumar Sangakkara has been in exceptional form, and that has made things unbelievably easy for the Lankans.
South Africa, as always, have faced a couple of hiccups along the way. They were expected to beat India, but were off colour in that game at Melbourne as Shikhar Dhawan trampled them. They also went on to lose to Pakistan. They have progressed to the quarters on the basis of the bashing they handed out to West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland. Pakistan were unpredictable as ever. They continued their losing streak against India in the World Cup, and had a shocker of a game against West Indies. But, just when their World Cup campaign seemed in trouble, they came up with an inspired effort against South Africa to reignite their chances, and the Ireland triumph paved the path for their progress.
West Indies were the only side who progressed because they were good enough to overcome the minnows. Of course, they faltered against Ireland, but the win over Pakistan gave them a massive boost, and the record-breaking performance against Zimbabwe gave a major fillip to their run-rate. A last-match win against UAE was enough to send them into the quarters. Bangladesh's progress to the last eight is the only surprise factor. But, they deserve credit for the manner in which they put it across England. Triumphs over Scotland and Afghanistan were expected, and they were helped by the washout against Australia. Time for them to head on to bigger challenges.
--By A Cricket Analyst